Teams dream of the perfect race. When that race is a long endurance event, it is even harder to achieve that dream. Then, adding to the excitement, you have 2 race cars to service. This makes for a very long odds on the dream. However, this is exactly what Team Sahlen was able to achieve at the recent Sahlen’s Sports Car Springfest at the Glen with the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing series.
After 9 hour of racing against a full field of 60+ competitors, Team Sahlen’s #42 & #41 Porsche Caymans secured 1st and 2nd Overall, separated by only 0.09 seconds. This marked the closet finish in American Endurance Racing history.
Winning driver Joe Nonnamaker shared his thoughts after the amazing Saturday 9 hour enduro:
“I have been racing since 1972, and I have never been a part of a race where this perfect of-a-day occurs for both cars. Just to finish a 9 hour race is amazing. Then to have the #42 and #41 Caymans finish right next to each other. Both cars separately had a perfect race, and this resulted in both being on right at the front on the lead lap together. It’s a real testament to the crew for their efforts in the off season to work on the race preparation and improving the performance.”
Interestingly, Team Sahlen also holds the distinction of having the closest margin of victory in the Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series, by less than 4 feet at the finish line. This Victory occurred at last year’s 7 hour Pittsburgh Grand Prix, where the Team Sahlen Mazda RX7 Rotary Rocket crossed the line by the narrowest of margins.
To say though that Team Sahlen’s race was smooth sailing would be incorrect though. Facing steep competition from a barrage of ever improving Mustangs and BMWs, the best Team Sahlen could fare in Qualifying was 3rd and 6th on the grid. But everyone at Team Sahlen knows that 9 hours is a long time, and qualifying is just where you start at the beginning of a long enduro.
For the green flag of Sunday’s 9 hour endurance event, the grid was set from Saturday’s race results. This saw Team Sahlen take the start 1st and 2nd on the front row. From the very start, duo took off into the lead. The #41 Porsche Cayman had an early incident that resulted in a retirement from the race. This left the mantle to lead to charge to the #42 Cayman. And for next 8 hours, the Sahlen’s Porsche battled hard with the hard charging Mustang. A downpour at the end of the race saw Team Sahlen switch to rain tires that proved to be a great option until the track dried out with 40 minutes to go. Slippery rain tires on a drying track saw the Team Sahlen Cayman slide off track, to net a 4th place finish for the day. This finish though was good enough to secure the OVERALL Class 5 Victory for the weekend’s dual 9 hour endure events.
Joe Sahlen shared his thoughts after the weekend – “This is our 4th year entering the Sahlen’s Sports Car Springfest at the Glen event, and I believe that we have been fortunate to win Overall in each of those years. But none of those prior victories neared as closely to perfection as the dramatic 1-2 Overall Victory on Saturday.
The next event for Team Sahlen will be the Sahlen’s Champyard DOG at the Glen with the Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series to be held of Memorial Day Weekend. Team Sahlen will be entering their Mazda RX7s as well as their Porsche Cayman “Salt” in this event in hopes of continuing the winning streak at Watkins Glen International.